Piquet apologises, clarifies controversial comments

Nelson Piquet

Three-time world drivers’ champion Nelson Piquet has issued a statement in an effort to clarify comments attributed to him.

The Brazilian has been accused of usual a racial slur on a podcast last November, promptly responses from Formula 1, the FIA, and Lewis Hamilton.

However, Piquet claims the situation is a result of a misunderstanding, and a poor translation of his comments.

“I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year,” the 69-year-old said in a statement received by Speedcafe.com.

“What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend.

“I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations.

“I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour.

“I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct.

“Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect.”

The saga comes as Red Bull announced it has severed links with Juri Vips after he used a discriminatory term during a live stream earlier this month.

Initially the Austrian company suspended the Estonian pending an investigation, and on Tuesday confirmed that it had released the 21-year-old Formula 2 driver.

Piquet has long been a controversial character and was famed during his driving career for playing mental games with his team-mates.

That was most evident in the relationship he had with Nigel Mansell while the pair were partnered at Williams and battled for the world championship in 1986 and 1987.

He was also involved in a physical altercation with Eliseo Salazar at the 1982 German Grand Prix after the pair made contact as Piquet attempted to lap the Chilean.

Piquet, the second driver to make 200 grand prix starts (behind Riccardo Patrese), retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 1991 season with three world titles, 23 wins, 24 pole positions, and 60 fastest laps to his name.

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